Jay-Z Says Dave Chappelle Is ‘Super-Brave and Super-Genius’ in Response to Comedian’s Transphobic Comments

Once a comedy innovator, Dave Chappelle has fallen off the radar in recent years. His show, Chappelle’s Show, was an acclaimed sketch comedy program on Comedy Central. It premiered in 2003, and Chappelle took part in only two of the show’s three seasons, but the series made an impression. Chappelle’s Show is still a staple of pop culture a decade later. The comedian’s bits have inspired memes and today’s biggest comedy stars, including Donald Glover and Jordan Peele.

Chappelle recently stepped back into the spotlight with a new Netflix special, during which he made controversial comments. And music mogul Jay-Z recently stepped in to defend the comedian.

Dave Chappelle is facing backlash after his Netflix special 

Dave Chappelle and Jay-Z backstage during the 36th-annual Rock & Roll Hall of Fame Induction Ceremony at Rocket Mortgage Fieldhouse on October 30, 2021, in Cleveland, Ohio
Dave Chappelle and Jay-Z in October 2021 | Kevin Mazur/Getty Images for the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame

Chappelle should be celebrating a successful release of his standup comedy special The Closer. Instead, he and Netflix have been on the defensive. According to Insider, that’s thanks to offensive remarks he made about transgender people.

In the special, Chappelle defended Harry Potter author J.K. Rowling, who has often faced criticism for her attitude toward gender. Chappelle said, “Gender is a fact,” which is similar to Rowling’s stance. She has aligned herself with the TERF camp, which stands for “trans-exclusionary feminism.” Basically, TERFs don’t believe trans women are women, and they don’t think trans women have a place in modern feminism. Chappelle clearly stated in his special that he is “team TERF.”

Despite facing backlash, Chappelle and Netflix are adamant they won’t back away from the remarks. 

Rapper Jay-Z is on Dave Chappelle’s side 

Not everyone is criticizing Chappelle. Some fans may not agree with his TERF views but believe the special still has comedic value. Rapper Jay-Z has a different perspective. He thinks the divisiveness of The Closer is what makes it worthwhile.

In a recent Twitter Spaces, he defended Chappelle. The Brooklyn-born music artist said:

“I think what happens with true art is it has to cause a conversation, and sometimes it’s going to be abrasive, sometimes it’s going to be off-putting to folks, but I think it opens up an opportunity to have a dialogue about whatever the issue is.” 

Jay-Z might have a different take on the special because he’s friends with Chappelle. The comedian recently introduced Jay during his Rock & Roll Hall of Fame induction ceremony. Chappelle is “brilliant,” according to Jay-Z. “He’s super-brave and super-genius,” the rapper said. He knows Chappelle is pushing people’s buttons, but in Jay-Z’s opinion, that’s what real artists do. 

Who else supports the comedian?

Jay-Z isn’t the only one speaking out on Chappelle’s behalf. Netflix has had some issues with employees taking offense to the special, yet the head of the streaming service is adamant that The Closer will not be taken down or edited.

In addition, the Laugh Factory’s Jamie Masada wrote an open letter calling for all comedians to rally behind Chappelle in the wake of what he sees as an attack on comedy, Deadline reports.

And the family of Daphne Dorman, a transgender comedian who was friends with Chappelle, has also thrown its support behind him. According to The Daily Beast, Dorman died by suicide after defending Chappelle in 2019 following a similar incident. Chappelle was close to Dorman and loved her ability to openly discuss identity without anyone taking offense. Dorman’s family believes that Chappelle is a true ally and that Dorman would support him again if she were still here. 

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